Saturn Aura - The Power of General Motors
For years, Saturn built mundane cars that looked and felt -- for lack of a better word -- cheap. Its midsize family sedans were no exception. Rumors continue to swirl regarding the demise of the brand, but the Saturn Aura persists as a reminder that just a few years ago, Saturn seemed to be in the midst of a turnaround. The Euro-influenced Aura has a distinctly sporty edge in both design and performance. After years of bringing up the rear in the midsize sedan market, Saturn finally has a true competitor.
In reviews, our editors have found that the Saturn Aura matches up well with other cars in its class, though it's hardly a leader. The pickup from the 3.6-liter V6 is strong, and the Aura offers a nice balance of tight, precise handling characteristics and comfort. However, the Aura is not free of flaws, as we've found that the steering could use some work -- it has an artificial weighty feel that tends to be vague at speed and too heavy in parking lots. Notably, our long-term Saturn Aura tester was prone to shop visits for a variety of reasons, including several nagging steering problems. Other complaints were mostly limited to nitpicking interior fit and finish, a reminder that, while the Aura is miles ahead of previous Saturn offerings, there are still some things that could use more attention.
The Saturn Aura debuted for the 2007 model year. The four-cylinder engine was added for 2008. Prior to 2009, a 3.5-liter V6 with 224 hp was optional on the XE, a four-speed automatic was mandatory on all but the top-level XR (which only came with the 3.6-liter V6), Bluetooth was unavailable and stability control was standard on V6-powered models only. Available in two trim levels -- XE and XR -- the Saturn Aura is one of the more distinctive midsize sedans on the market. It is built on a stretched version of General Motors' "Epsilon" platform and has a surprising amount of rear-seat legroom. In fact, there are many things that may surprise buyers, including the Aura's excellent design sensibility. The cabin is nicely styled, with just the right amount of (faux) wood trim or metallic accents.
The XE trim comes with Saturn Aura Accessories like 17-inch wheels (alloy wheels are available as an option) and a 2.4-liter, 169-horsepower four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Air-conditioning, full power accessories, cruise control, StabiliTrak stability control and a six-speaker audio system with CD player and auxiliary audio jack also come standard. The XR comes standard with the four-cylinder but boasts an optional 3.6-liter V6 engine, which bumps power up to 252 hp. A six-speed automatic transmission is mandatory here as well. Other standard features on the XR include 18-inch alloy wheels, leather seating, a power driver seat, heated front seats, Bluetooth and a premium stereo with eight speakers and a six-CD changer. A navigation system is not available with the Aura, even as an option.
With the launch of the 2007 Sky this spring, Saturn kicks off its most extensive product revitalization to date. Next to market is the all-new 2007 Aura midsize sedan, unveiled today. Based on last year's concept car of the same name, the Aura blends Saturn's new European-influenced design and high levels of refinement with the brand's customer-focused purchase and ownership experience.
The Aura's driving character will match its refined design, with a host of technologically sophisticated powertrains and a premium sport-sedan setup. Uplevel models feature GM's first application of a new six-speed automatic transmission mated with the 3.6L DOHC V-6, creating a powerful yet fuel-efficient package. Later in the 2007 model year, Saturn will offer the Aura Green Line, a 2.4L Ecotec-based hybrid that will use a powertrain system similar to the Vue Green Line. It marks the first application of a hybrid powertrain in a GM passenger car.